And if so, is it for you?
If you haven’t experienced 360° video marketing, or any type of 360°/VR content, then surely you'll have heard about it. At the very least, you’ve seen the GIFs of the immersive level of 360°/VR video and games being taken to it’s natural comedic conclusion.
Well, here you go.
You’re welcome ;)
The current state of the medium
So, is this technology the next Betamax or are we looking at the next big thing? In short, it seems to be the latter. At least, going by how the big hitters are treating this technology.
Facebook outright bought Oculus, one of the biggest emerging startups to get into the VR game. Along with that, they’ve even begun to let users of their app capture 360° images on their phone and host 360° videos on their site.
Google is also investing heavily in the tech. They are putting their Daydream headset front and centre with their Pixel phones and allowing creators to host 360° videos on YouTube.
Apple seems a little late to the party, but it certainly seems like they are on their way.
Even the business analysts really believe in this medium, some stating the global market for this content will grow 81% annually.
Couple this with many established camera manufacturers such as Kodak, Nikon, GoPro and others releasing 360° recording options for a variety of price points, and it really seems that this tech is here to stay.
But what is it good for?
On a raw, psychological level, studies have shown that viewers experiencing 360° video and/or VR can connect more emotionally, with viewers experiencing more empathy with the video's subjects. This is thought to be due to the level of viewer immersion and control being much higher than traditional video.
The potential for greater empathy through this interaction was crystallised through a harrowing look by the NY Times at stories of children driven from war.
On a marketing level, it seems to be a great medium for ‘transporting’ viewers. In the tourism industry, Thomson Holidays are showing the northern lights in Iceland to viewers and Expedia is giving viewers a whistle-stop tour of Australia. Samsung is also promoting their own hardware, the Gear 360°, by taking the viewer on a snowboarding adventure while BMW is letting viewers become passengers of a race car.
Along with these ‘transporting’ experiences, brands are coming up with novel experiences. One example is ASDA’s tour of the George boy's bedroom where viewers could win vouchers if they spot all the Easter eggs.
Does it “work”?
Much of the data shows that 360° video marketing in many ways can be more effective than traditional video. One side-by-side test by Google showed that while the 360° video had a lower view-through rate when compared to the traditional format, pretty much every other important metric improved. View count, subscribes and shares were all higher for the 360° version. With the examples in the previous paragraph, every video seemed to have success.
Thomson - 440,000 views
Expedia - 3.5 million views
Samsung - 800,000 views
BMW - 3.5 million views
ASDA - 900,000 views
As with all marketing methods, this doesn’t necessarily mean you can have sure-fire success, so maybe hold off on running out and buying a 360° camera and the relevant editing software. The main takeaway to consider is this - would your particular message be delivered more powerfully by taking the viewer to a new location, such as a tourist destination or exciting event, or would placing your target audience in someone else’s shoes would be a worthwhile experience?
Basically, if your message could involve being somewhere or being someone then 360° video marketing might be for you.
Regardless, you could always benefit by discussing this first with your local video production company.